Lleyton Hewitt’s decision to axe Nick Kyrgios from Australia’s Davis Cup quarter-final has backfired as Australia crashed out of the quarter-finals to Canada. Australia went down 2-1 with the inspirational Vasik Pospisil the hero for the Canadians who will now face Serbia or Russia in the semi-finals on Saturday.
John Peers and Jordan Thompson went down 6-4, 6-4 in the decisive doubles rubber, but the biggest talking point of the tie was the shock decision to play John Millman in the opening rubber instead of Kyrgios.
The 24-year-old has been in brilliant form during the first two ties, hurling down 34 aces and was earlier this week labelled the ultimate team man by captain Hewitt. Mystery surrounded the late scratching with Tennis Australia officials merely saying the 24-year-old had not been nominated.
Millman started well against the huge-serving Pospisil, breaking his serve in only the second game of the match. However, the 29-year-old broke back to level the set at 4-4 and then saved two set points to take a tense tiebreak.
Millman struggled to deal with the Pospisil’s power game in the second set and was unable to hold serve at 5-4 down and the Canadian forced an error to seal victory.
The admirable Alex de Minaur then levelled the tie at 1-1 after coming from a set down to beat Shapovalov in a rematch of the 2016 junior Wimbledon final. But Pospisil, a former All England doubles champion lifted his young teammate in the decider shortly after his defeat, to seal a fantastic victory.
Injuries to Felix Auger-Aliassime and Brayden Schnur and Milos Raonic have forced the Canadians to field Shapovalov and Pospisil in every match of the tournament.
Peers, who was forced to retire with an elbow injury just one game into the dead rubber against Belgium in the early hours of Thursday morning, was cleared to play. But after a poor first set, the Australians broke in the first game of the second set to seize the initiative.
However, Thompson was broken at 4-4 and Pospisil, fittingly, held his nerve to close out the win and leave Australia without a Davis Cup win since 2003.